This is what happens when bureaucrats get the idea they can control how doctors practice medicine.
According to the New York Times (I read it so you don’t have to), Nanny Bloomberg has a new plan:
Some of the most common and most powerful prescription painkillers on the market will be restricted sharply in the emergency rooms at New York City’s 11 public hospitals, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Thursday in an effort to crack down on what he called a citywide and national epidemic of prescription drug abuse.
Under the new city policy, most public hospital patients will no longer be able to get more than three days’ worth of narcotic painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet. Long-acting painkillers, including OxyContin, a familiar remedy for chronic backache and arthritis, as well as Fentanyl patches and methadone, will not be dispensed at all. And lost, stolen or destroyed prescriptions will not be refilled.
City officials said the policy was aimed at reducing the growing dependency on painkillers and preventing excess amounts of drugs from being taken out of medicine chests and sold on the street or abused by teenagers and others who want to get high.
Nevermind that there may be valid medical reasons for giving more than a three-day supply, as this real doctor (as opposed to a bureaucrat playing doctor) points out:
“Here is my problem with legislative medicine,” said Dr. Alex Rosenau, president-elect of the American College of Emergency Physicians and senior vice chairman of emergency medicine at Lehigh Valley Health Network in Eastern Pennsylvania. “It prevents me from being a professional and using my judgment.”
While someone could fake a toothache to get painkillers, he said, another patient might have legitimate pain and not be able to get an appointment at a dental clinic for days. Or, he said, a patient with a hand injury may need more than three days of pain relief until the swelling goes down and an operation could be scheduled.
The attitude among Bloomberg and his fellow Ruling Class Nannies is that doctors can’t be trusted to practice medicine, which they went to college for many years to learn… they have to be controlled by Ruling Class people who never went to even one day of medical school.
Update: Bloomberg shows his heartless side (emphasis mine):
“The city hospitals we control, so…we’re going to do it and we’re urging all of the other hospitals to do it, voluntary guidelines. Somebody said, oh, somebody wrote, ‘Oh then maybe there won’t be enough painkillers for the poor who use the emergency rooms as their primary care doctor,’” the mayor said on his weekly radio show with John Gambling. “Number one, there’s no evidence of that. Number two, supposing it is really true so you didn’t get enough painkillers and you did have to suffer a little bit. The other side of the coin is people are dying and there’s nothing perfect….There’s nothing that you can possibly do where somebody isn’t going to suffer and it’s always the same group [claiming], ‘Everybody is heartless.’ Come on, this is a very big problem.”
Okay, look, I’ve worked in the pharmacy department of an HMO for a while (as a temp). They keep very good track of what drugs are prescribed for their patients, and if there were multiple prescriptions for similar drugs by multiple doctors, it raised all sorts of red flags in the system, and we alerted all the doctors involved about it, so it could be stopped. I see no reason why the NYC hospitals wouldn’t have a similar system to keep these medications from being abused.
And by the way, Nanny Bloomberg, I’m not one of “the same group” saying this is heartless. My usual answer is to suck it up, but to limit painkillers in emergency rooms, where people are generally in a good deal of pain (just listen to the sounds of pain in any emergency room someday), would make even Ebenezer Scrooge cringe.